In most parts of Canada, the summers are rather short and mild. Still, when the temperature rises above 25 degrees, it can get uncomfortable in the house, especially when the sun is shining brightly. Having an air conditioning system installed can make a big difference, but the lower you program the thermostat, the higher your electric bills are going to be. Using some of these methods to cool your home can lower your air conditioning bill while making you a lot more comfortable.
- Draw the blinds. During the summer, it can feel great to let the sun shine in. When it's hot outside, though, it can feel anything but great. Many people open the blinds when they wake up as a matter of routine. If having the sun entering your room makes you feel more awake, then go for it, but remember to close the blinds again within an hour or two. If you have Venetian blinds, turn them so the blades are pointing up; this will help reflect the sun's rays better than if you twist them so they're pointing down.
- Open the windows strategically. You can alternate having the windows open and using the air conditioning to make better use of natural resources. If it's cool and not too humid at night, open the windows to let cool air into the house. During the day, close the windows as soon as it starts to get uncomfortably warm outside, which is often within a couple of hours of the sunrise. Whenever windows are open, be sure that the air conditioning is off to save electricity.
- Run fans, but only if you're in the room. While it might feel like a fan cools off a room, the opposite is actually true. According to How Stuff Works, fans actually add heat to a room due to using electricity. When you are in the path of air flow, however, it can make you feel cooler simply due to the movement of the air on your skin. If you have ceiling fans, make sure they're going in the right direction; if you stand under them, you should feel the air blowing down. If you don't, get on a stool and find the switch on the side that changes the fan's direction.
- Add insulation to your attic. You already know that faulty or inadequate insulation in your attic will allow heat to escape in the winter. It works the same way in the summer, allowing your conditioned air to float right out of your home. While you're at it, make sure that your wall insulation is up to par, and also that you caulk up any air leaks around your windows and doors.
- Turn off the lights. Keeping the lights off can help your rooms stay cooler. If it's time to replace your lightbulbs, take out the incandescent ones and switch to LED or CFL ones instead, as they tend to give off less heat.
- Use alternative cooking methods. You have to eat, and your family probably does not want to have cold cereal for every meal (though it can do in a pinch on a particularly warm evening!). Instead of turning on the oven, however, try using your slow-cooker or your grill to cook dinner. That will save your air conditioner from having to work overtime at what might be the hottest time of the day.
Staying cool in the hottest part of the summer can be a challenge, particularly if you don't have air conditioning or need to turn it off to keep your electric bills down. By using some of these suggestions, however, you should be able to minimize your usage of your air conditioning system while still staying comfortable.